Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Nativity Scene

We have a display cabinet in our living room that we like to change seasonally. During December we set up our collection of Nativity sets in it plus some angels, snow men and other wintery items. I do like that the cabinet is lit from the top and it has glass shelves. This gives a nice shade and ambiance, but  perhaps not the sharpest for pictures.

My mother-in-law made beautiful ceramics as a hobby in her later years and produced many lovely, beautifully painted pieces but my favorite by far is this little nativity set that she displayed in the dining area of her kitchen. My kids remember it from grandmas and now my grandchildren get to see it too.

Grandma Cooper's Nativity Set

We Three Kings

Shepard's await in Fields by Night

Oh Come, O Come Emmanuel! 

The top two shelves of the cabinet.

I hope to share pictures of some of the other Nativity sets in the near future.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Simple Fudge

Chocolate Fudge and Mini Oreo Fudge
I like to do a variety of activities with the grandkids. I also like to make them seasonal and interactive and this past week the plan was fudge.

I have taken on the job of supporting my oldest grandchild in learning school skills so I do a lot of things like double the amounts in a recipe, or half them, and then we can basically show an applied use for our math skills. We are covering organization skills and what order steps should be taken and I often get him to type out the recipe, preferably in his own words, but I take what I can get. Next I try to get him to take pictures or I take pics of him and we insert it into the document.
We eat or send home treats or meals and we try and do a critical discussion about what was good about making it, best about eating it and if we would ever make that again.

Sometimes we try out things that I want to do at Work or at the Stroke Recovery Association because I am much more comfortable having previously done an activity myself. I feel more confident that I have everything I need and I can review were there might be problems before I find myself disappointing a group of people. This was one occasion where I am really glad we did our test run.

Emily, the boys and I used a recipe for chocolate fudge off of Pinterest and it never set hard enough to cut. It actually seemed more like a pretty good filling for something like truffles. We figured out what we did wrong. The recipe called for fewer than usual chocolate chips plus sweetened condensed milk and the kind we bought was LOW FAT sweetened condensed mild. We did not even notice until we started to figure out what went wrong. The kids and I will try it out again this weekend.

Wednesday was Fudge Day at Stroke Recovery Association and I was smarter this time, played it safe and used the recipe right on the Eagle Brand Condensed Milk label. We had nothing but fun and success with lots of added in candy, sprinkles.

1-2-3 Fudge

3 cups chocolate chips.
1 can Evaporated Condensed Milk
1 tsp vanilla.
 around a cup of fun things to add in.

  • Prepare a pan by greasing the sides and ideally put a lining of parchments paper to make it easier to lift out later.
  • Measure the chocolate chips into a large glass measuring bowl and still in the condensed milk.
  • Heat in a microwave,  stir and make sure it is smooth.
  • Remove from the microwave and add vanilla
  • Now is the time to stir in your add ins. They can be chopped up candies, glazed cherries, mini marshmallows dried fruits. nuts, cereals. You should avoid wet ingredients but other than that be creative and make it your own. 
  • Pour your warm fudge into the prepared pans. A spatula makes this easier to transfer and smooth your surface. you might want to add a few more of the fun things to be a decorative topping. 
  • Cool for a couple hours, then check for firmness, cut into pieces and enjoy.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Choir Concert Prize Draws

Bob and I have not been singing in the Scandinavian Choir this year.

The biggest problem is that choir is every Monday evening and I work every second Monday. Now that sounds like there was no time conflict but there sure was an energy conflict. The fact is that I really have to try and manage my energy. I do really well but one of the problems left over from my brain injury is still some ongoing fatigue. I really have to watch how I use my time and how much I do and that is not always easy. Now that I am having a lot of arthritis problems one of the things I am being told is to watch how I use my energy and to do things like use assistive here we go again! I am hoping to get better pain management soon and be able to keep on doing the things I love. Maybe we will be singing again in a month or next fall but I am not able to commit right now.

We went to the Scandinavian Choir's Christmas concert on Monday. It was a fun evening with our choir friends, enjoying some singing, dressing up a bit, food to eat and there were chance draws for prizes that the members donated.

We put tickets into every draw bag and were shocked when we won three of the draws! 

The first prize was a nice looking poinsettia plant.

Next I had my eye on an angel garden sculpture and sure enough we won that one too. I want to do more gardening both at home and at the lake so this little guy can be an inspiration. That draw also included  garden note cards and a small heart shaped picture frame.

The third prize pack include a red napkin holder, napkins, an Aloe Vera plant,  and a very pretty little necklace.
There was also a very nice set of Christmas towels for the bathroom but I am not so sure which gift pack it came with.

I love everything!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Egg Nog with Emily

We were having a relaxing evening watching Christmas movies and my daughter Emily decided to make Egg Nog. Now I am perfectly happy with the egg nog that comes out of a carton so I don't remember ever trying to make egg nog. Emily is pretty determined so she looked up some recipes and went for it. I must say the stuff in the carton is no comparison. The home made egg nog was very rich and the egg whites whipped into meringue and stirred in give such a wonderful and interesting texture

She was happiest with the Alton Brown's Egg Nog recipe and I would certainly encourage her to make it for us again.
We had recently been to an Epicure Party at a friends place and I purchased their egg nog spice mix. I honestly was thinking of using it in cheesecake or pancakes or cookies or something, and had not even considered making eggnog to drink. Emily substituted this spice mix for the spices in Alton's recipe.

I just had to add this second pic of the egg-nog when I realized that the dog photobombed it. .. he always loves creamy things but this beverage was not for sharing with a doggie!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Planting Amaryllis

I love seasonal plants! They just make me happy!

Last week I got flower bulbs to plant both at home and at work.

I wanted to grow Amaryllis at work because it is such a large dramatic and fast growing plant. The kits are fairly reasonably priced for what you get and include a plastic pot, saucer, soil and a bulb. I gathered a group of about 7 or 8 residents and together we talked about Christmas Plants in general and we examined the bulbs which are pretty darn impressive and big. We planted it in the soil and watered it and I am crossing my fingers it grows fast. The window I put them in is not very warm. My plan is that once they get going I will take them visiting to many residents so they can watch them grow up. My aim is to have gorgeous flowers by Christmas or New Years.

I also had lots of fun planting Amaryllis and Paper Whites with my 7 and 11 year old grandsons.  They loved planting them and when they are over they are eager to water them and see what has changed. I regularly spend time with the older boy helping him with his academic skills. The December plan includes tracking the growth of the 4 Amaryllis plants and the two pots of paper whites including measuring them all weekly. We have worked on how to make a table on the computer where he can record the information and then in the end I will get him to average the different plants growth and graph his results by heights vs time . That is actually pretty challenging but it is gradual and hidden in so much fun that he will "enjoy the learning". 

I will post more pictures as they grow.

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